Industry trade shows, conferences, and exhibitions remain popular. In fact, a recent Center for Exhibition Industry Research report reveals an increase in trade show activity.
As a participating business, you need to do trade shows right and make the most of your time there. Here are 10 tips to get the most out of your trade show:
As summer begins, this is a particularly good time to start planning for the fall events. So here are some insider tips for getting the most of a trade show appearance.
1. Map out your objectives for the event and create a plan. Show attendance is more than an opportunity to collect leads and engage with prospects. It is also an opportunity to meet with partners, press, potential employees, even competitors.
Consider announcing a new product, implementing an incentive plan for recruiting partners, or arranging meetings with industry analysts. Understanding who will be attending the event and other activities that will take place at the show should play a role in your decisions.
2. Apply early for a meaningful speaking opportunity. Presenting at a conference or trade show brings credibility to your company and amplifies your message. Getting a customer to speak on your behalf is even better.
3. Reach out to the people you want to meet before the show. A good place to start is your prospect database. Use social media like Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook to see who is talking about the show. Reach out to these folks via targeted emails. Get personal and be specific about why people should meet with you.
4. Bring the right staff. Pick staff who like engaging with strangers, even if they are not in sales. Product developers are sometimes your best advocates. If you hire local staff to augment your company presence, make sure they know the basics about the company/product. Be sure the best prospects get preferential treatment and the time-wasters don’t clog up booth operations.
5. Choose a good trade show booth location. At a small show, location is not important, so don’t spend extra money on it, but at the larger shows, it pays to get a location that is:
On a busy aisle or near the hall entrance
Near an anchor booth (a big company in a related market).
On a corner. This gives you more effective space than you paid for, since you can encroach on more aisle space without running afoul of the show managers.
6. Booth graphics and messaging need to be simple. Typically, you have about two seconds to capture attention with your booth display. So focus on the top keywords and great graphics on your trade show exhibit. White space is a huge plus.
7. Create an engaging way to interact with visitors. Contests and challenges are good ways to create meaningful interaction, but make sure they are connected to your company’s value proposition. People love to play hands-on games and win a chance to get something substantial, like an iPad. Photographing or videoing participants and uploading the content to the company Facebook page is a great way to keep the buzz going even after show is over.
8. Prepare packaged demos, so people can understand your product within two minutes. If someone wants more information, pass them on to a qualified person to go more in depth.
9. Don’t waste the time and money participating in "Speaker’s Corners"-type demos.
10. Use giveaways judiciously. If there is a way to tie the giveaway into your company's value proposition, then giving something away makes sense, because it reinforces engagement and brand equity.
Also, do all the obvious stuff like wear clearly branded company attire, make sure you have ample literature on hand, follow up with leads quickly after the show.
Contact The Exhibit Source for more information on a captivating and engaging trade show exhibit.
Fast Company Magazine